September 2017

Terri is the owner of a Christian candle shop in Waukesha, WI. Our interview covered the importance of God’s plan and listening.

How she’s involved in her community:

I work a lot with the non-profits. I’m on the downtown Waukesha Business Foundation and am involved with the Waukesha Farmer’s Market. Also, I serve on a committee that plans family friendly events.

God has impacted her as a citizen:

I do believe that the Bible is the true, inspired word of God. I try to live according to what God tells us. That relationship with God adds a dimension to things. It requires me to have patience, to be a good listener. The biggest part of communication is listening and not judging others. I try to do that, to understand other people’s life experiences. God makes you look at things in a different way. It’s not about me. It’s about something bigger than me. Continue reading God’s Plan

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I served my country, as my son did, as my father did, as my nephew did – we all served so that people could do stupid things like kneel during the National Anthem. It’s not the time or place. I’ll always stand. Do I think it’s disrespectful? Yea, I do. But we fight for people to have that freedom of speech.

Laura, Army Veteran, Waukesha, WI

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Matthew is a senior at the University of Chicago, where he is the President of the College Republicans. A political science major, he’s passionate about the need for all of us to challenge ourselves to learn more about the other side. It’s worth noting that the other member of the College Republicans I spoke with said he thought Matt is the best citizen he knows, because Matthew genuinely and generously engages with people who disagree with him everyday.

He’s already politically engaged:

I’m one of the Ward Committee Men in Chicago. I’ve done a lot of civically engaged things, in terms of working with the Fifth Ward community to help improve trash collection and guaranteeing that there’s a good election system. Before I was elected, there weren’t Republican ballot judge at the primaries, and so I worked to make sure that for the general election that every polling place had an election judge that was not a Democrat. At Ward meetings, each committee man represents the votes of the number of people who voted for him, so I take my decisions very seriously when representing the people who elected me.

Why he disagrees with safe spaces:

Dean Ellison, of University of Chicago, said he doesn’t support intellectual safe spaces. That’s something that people who disagreed with the university didn’t talk about. I agree with the Dean. I oppose safe spaces like the one at Brown University when a speaker came to campus, and the campus set up a safe space with play dough, coloring books, and videos of frolicking puppies. Those kinds of safe spaces treat college students like we’re completely inept and can’t hear anything that challenges our world view.

That’s not what the University of Chicago is about. That’s not what any university should be about. Just a few days ago, Ben Shapiro spoke at Berkeley, and the university offered counseling services to students who didn’t even attend the event, students who were just disturbed by his presence on campus. The problem with that is if we treat every speaker as a trauma, it undermines our ability to help people with mental health challenges.

If you don’t like a speaker, don’t go to it. Or go challenge it. But the response should not be to go to coloring books. Continue reading Free Speech, Safe Spaces, and National Pride

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Last Monday, I had a chance to sit down with Northwestern President, Dr. Morton Schapiro. Our conversation touched on the American political system, the importance of both safe spaces and uncomfortable learning, and why students need humility. I’ve broken the interview up into three parts and have edited it slightly for clarity.

 The American System, and Why it Works:

Our written values are exemplary:

What does it mean for all men to be created equal? Well, the founders were men, white men, property owners, and that (should) give (us) a lot to think about. (But) freedom of religion, freedom of expression, individual liberty are great things. I think that the values we have in the U.S., that we have written down but don’t always live, are good ways to live. One of my fields is development economics, and I’ve spent time in seventeen countries. I’ve been in a lot of countries where I’ve said, “Man, they could use a Constitution like ours.”

Property rights and rule of law are fundamental to any country:

I hope being an American would mean to respect basic human rights. It hasn’t always been that way in this country. But beyond that, I also think the rule of law is so important, specifically respecting property rights. I’ve worked in countries where socialist governments nationalized everything overnight. It was such a disaster. You have to respect individual liberty, you have to respect property. If you have laws, you have to abide by them.

One of my colleagues wrote a new book about the culture of economic growth. He argues that some countries have developed and others haven’t, even today, because of respect for laws. In so many countries, the laws are situational. There’s an expediency for the judiciary, for the executive branch. We don’t have that in this country. We don’t always agree on the law, but it is great to be in a country where the law matters. If you don’t protect property rights, you don’t get any investment in capital, human or physical.

Checks and balances:

After the election, I said I had a lot of faith in checks and balances, particularly the independent judiciary. A lot of people said, “That won’t happen.” Well, checks and balances have worked. “So-called” judges have maintained their independence in a beautiful way. Congress has been more of a mixed bag. I think the brilliance of our founding is really that system of checks and balances. (It means) that if there’s a President who has certain kinds of views that aren’t consistent with a lot of other people’s, there’s a limit to what they can do. It’s still not perfect. The President still has the nuclear codes, but it’s a lot better than a lot of the places I’ve been.  Continue reading A Conversation with Northwestern University President, Dr. Morton Schapiro

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As promised, I wanted to publish the political leanings of the four people whose interviews I posted.

Interview 1: Sherry, a counselor, talked about the importance of Christ and listening. She voted for Hilary Clinton and goes back and forth between voting for Republicans and Democrats.

Interview 2: Rick, a veteran and volunteer at Granger Community Church, focused on the importance of being a good neighbor and his skepticism about the media. He voted for Donald Trump.

Interview 3: Jon, a former head of school and current member of the ministry, discussed the importance of charity and reckoning with our history. He voted for Donald Trump.

Interview 4: This person didn’t want to be named because she doesn’t reveal her political leanings to her friends. She emphasized that we need to be open to compromise. Although she’s a lifelong Republican, she refused to vote in this election.



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I was born in 1936. I was only six years old when World War II broke out. I think that war affected me all my life, as far as the rationing, the black outs at night. We used to gather milkweed pods and take those to school in bags, and those were used in life vests for the army. I think that period of time showed me what we have in the United States, in terms of security. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we got in the world. 

Rex, Retired Tool Designer, Northern Indiana

This is the fourth and final interview from my time in Mishawaka, Indiana. I am not revealing anything about these interviewees in order to highlight the fact that people’s answers often align and don’t depend on party line. This interview focused largely on the importance of people being moderates and compromising.

Her vision of citizenship:

I look at citizenship on a local level, not a national level. So, my keys to being a good citizen are community engagement and involvement. I know that’s a little shortsighted, but that’s just my bent.

The needed ingredient for good national citizenship:

But to be a good citizen on the global level, you need to have some tolerance. I think you need to be willing to be moderate. You can’t have an alt-left or an alt-right and get anything done. You have to listen to the other point view, and think about what’s good for the country, not necessarily what’s good for you. Continue reading Mishawaka Interview 4: The Need for Moderates

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This interview is the third in a series of interviews from Mishawaka, Indiana (you can find the first here and the second here). I’m not revealing any information about these interviewees until the end of the series in order to highlight the similarities of what they say (and so as not to bias readers about what their political leanings might be).

His thoughts on the media:

I try to stay up on current events, but I try not to watch the news because it jades my view of community. I never know what to trust. The inaccuracies and political bias on both sides are absurd. I’m not smart enough to know what’s true or what’s not.

On his efforts to stay informed:

I try to watch BBC World. It gives more of a broad spectrum globally of what’s important. It gives an understanding of how the world sees America. I was in India during the last election, and it was crazy to see the reactions when Trump won. BBC World doesn’t feel as jaded. I do also pick up the local newspaper. Because I’m a nerd, I’ll even go on the city’s website to read the minutes about hot topics such as education. I don’t do that all the time. Continue reading Mishawaka Interview 3: BBC World, Christ, and Love

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This is the second interview in a series of four interviews from Mishawaka, Indiana (the first is here). I am not sharing any political or personal information about these interviewees until the end of the series in order to capture how similar people’s messages are.

On his/her strengths as a citizen:

I think I’m the best that I can be right now. I think I do a good job of not getting involved in the negativity that surrounds politics. My spouse will have the news on in the morning, and I’ll say, “Why do you watch that?” I go and turn on shows like Leave it to Beaver instead. I also spend 20-25 hours volunteering at church. I write manuals, I organize, I’m here on Sundays. I love it.

Why Granger Community Church is a good citizen of its community:

GCC is a starter church. I was raised very, very Catholic. When I first came here, I didn’t really want to come. I was dating a person who said they’d heard great things about the church. I walked through the door reluctantly, and I heard and saw awesome things. They do a lot of community stuff. One of the things my wife and I help with is called “financial peace.” The church has put several hundred people through this course on managing their money. A lot of people say it helped them get a house and manager their finances. Continue reading Mishawaka Interview 2: Turn the TV Off

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For this set of interviews from Mishawaka, I am going to post the interviews with no information about the interviewees. After I’ve published all four, I am going to reveal their name, gender, age, and who they voted for. I found in these interviews that people of very different political leanings had very similar ideas and messages. Hopefully, readers will be surprised by people’s political leanings at the end, or, at the least, see how similar many peoples’ civic ideas are regardless of politics.

How this person could improve as a citizen:

I could do a better job of being involved in my community. I have three teenagers, and I’m not actively involved in their high school. I could also be better at being aware of my community and city. I am pretty good at being aware at the national level, and even the state level, but for my actual city, I just check out. We don’t have the best school board here, and I’m aware of it, but I need to think about what I need to do to fix it, and then do it.

On how religion impacts him/her as a citizen:

A part of community for me is understanding my identity in Christ and God, and that’s tied to my identity as a citizen at large. Continue reading Mishawaka Interview 1: Christ, Community, and Listening

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